2018 Herndon Town Council Election: The misleading sample ballot, the lawsuit, and who I am voting for

I’ve worked in the Town of Herndon since 2007, lived here since 2012, and owned a home here since 2013. Last year, I had my first child. Over time, my interest in the future of this community has grown substantially — I want Herndon to be a safe and vibrant town for my family.

This year, for the first time, I decided to do significant research about the Herndon Town Council election. I’ve met every candidate and discussed their vision for the next two years of Herndon. I’ve read every candidate’s campaign materials and platforms. I’ve read their illuminating Q&A’s in Oak Hill/Herndon Connection.

Given the amount of time and thought I have put into this election, I have decided to share my decision about who I will vote for, and why.

Before I share my decisions, I will provide a little bit of background on my personal values, the political landscape of Herndon, and some headline-grabbing drama.

Please contact me at danstalcup@gmail.com if you have any questions or feedback. I would love to hear the perspective of other Herndon residents.

My Values for Herndon’s Future

As I share my endorsements, please keep in mind the values I used to make my selections.

  • Progress. I am excited about Herndon’s future. Planning for redevelopment of downtown has come a long way, and, by all accounts, is not far from finalization. I believe a redeveloped, vibrant downtown will greatly increase the character and flavor of Herndon, and will provide a great community center for residents of Herndon to connect. I care about smart planning of other projects, too, including the upcoming Herndon Metro station. I also believe in the more abstract kind of progress — elevating community discourse and behavior to be positive, safe, inclusive, and forward-thinking.
  • Collaboration. Herndon is a small, tight-knit town. It’s a place for respectful consensus, not divisive politics. I value candidates that will work together with respect for all viewpoints, yet still drive towards a shared solution.
  • Accessibility. As part of Herndon’s small town feel, I believe that the government should be accessible to all citizens. I believe Councilmembers should make themselves available to one-on-one meetings with citizens, and decision-making should be open to the community.
  • Balance. While I believe Herndon should strive for progress, I also believe all efforts should be undertaken judiciously. For example, The Council and Town Manager have done a great job preserving the tax rate while still advancing exciting efforts like the downtown redevelopment.

A few words on the Democratic sample ballot

Regardless of your political beliefs, voters should understand which parties endorse what candidates.

Herndon Town Council and Mayor candidates are required to run as independents. However, they are not barred from receiving endorsements from party-run organizations.

All incumbent candidates (Lisa Merkel, Jennifer Baker, Sheila Olem, Signe Friedrichs, Bill McKenna, Grace Wolf Cunningham) plus two new candidates (Joe Plummer, Cesar del Aguila), sought endorsement by the local Democratic party. Only six of seven inquiring Council candidates (plus Ms. Merkel as mayor), could receive endorsements.

All candidates except for Grace Wolf Cunningham were recommended for endorsements from the party. However, all candidates except Olem, Friedrichs, and del Aguila declined the endorsement. At least some candidates whom I have spoken to did so because they did not want to sign a pledge to support and vote for all endorsed candidates. (More on the candidates below.)

Adding to the confusion and trouble, the Fairfax Democrats district that selected endorsements is predominantly non-Herndon residents.

The official Democratic sample ballot is not a complete representation of which Herndon Town Council candidates associate with the Democratic party. In my opinion, it is a bit of a debacle: As so many candidates declined their endorsements, it presents a skewed picture of the actual race and will mislead many Democratic-leaning voters who have not researched the Council elections.

Click the thumbnail below to see a corrected sample ballot of all candidates that were recommended for endorsement by Fairfax Democrats.

Click to see corrected Democratic sample ballot

A few words on the lawsuit

On September 24, two Councilmembers plus one new candidate — Sheila Olem, Signe Friedrichs, and Cesar del Aguila — sued Grace Wolf Cunningham for malicious prosecution.

Please read the Fairfax Times summary of the case, and note that it is reported almost entirely from the perspective of the plaintiffs.  A letter to the Herndon Connection editor agreed that the reporting is one-sided here.

I’ve read every article I could find on the topic, read plaintiff quotes, spoken to the defendant and several third parties, and come to my own conclusion: I’m not a lawyer, but based on the evidence I have seen, the lawsuit against Councilmember Cunningham is baseless, inappropriate, and distracting from real discourse.

While I sympathize with Olem, Friedrichs, and del Aguila for feeling frustrated by ticky-tacky ad complaints by Cunningham that were dismissed, I find it difficult to believe that the complaints were harassment or a danger to their candidacy: I’ve been following the race closely and had no idea the “Stand By Your Ad” complaints were filed until the news of the lawsuit broke. I hadn’t noticed or cared; how many voters truly would have?

The contention that the complaints were in response to Cunningham missing out on the Democratic endorsement seems speculative and personal. These type of political theatrics — unless against something truly injurious — do not represent the collaborative, small-town feel Herndon thrives on.

A few words on the art center and town budget

On April 24, 2018, Herndon Town Council faced some unusual drama in its attempt to pass its tax rate and budget. You can read a summary on the Herndon Connection here, and watch the web-cast of the session here. Two council members suggested a surprise continuance in passing the budget to look at raising the meals tax.

Central to the question about the tax rate is the issue of how much the Town of Herndon will fund the upcoming Arts Center. Part of Herndon’s small-town charm is its strong contingent of artists and creators. Key parts of many candidates’ platforms relate to how much they believe Herndon should fund the Arts Center.

I encourage you to read Herndon Connection Candidates Q&A — especially questions #2, #3, and #5 — for more info.

I personally support a balanced approach where Herndon supports the Center, without imposing significant tax burdens on residents. I will expand a bit when discussing some specific candidates later in this article.

Herndon Mayor: Who I am voting for

Lisa Merkel

I know that Lisa Merkel is running unopposed, so this is not a contentious selection. However, I would vote to re-elect “Mayor Lisa” even if she was running against someone.

Under Lisa Merkel, Herndon has thrived. Downtown redevelopment is nearly underway. She has elevated the town’s image and inclusive, small-town feel by building consensus and thinking forward.

She’s also transformed the Town Council from a partisan battleground to a progress-advocacy group. Nearly all votes have gone 7-0 or 6-1 in her tenure, and — despite the claims of her increasingly few (and unhinged) scorners — this has been emblematic of hard work and bridge-building prior to Council meetings, not malice.

Ms. Merkel is transparent and honest, a kind person, and a great mayor. She has my vote.

Herndon Town Council

Below is a ranked-order list of the town council members: the first few of which I will be voting for, the rest of which I will not.

The top of the list are my favorite candidates, the bottom of the list my least-favorite. Note that I believe every (or nearly every) candidate has a mindset of civic service, and would strive to make Herndon the best town possible. I do not begrudge anyone voting for any of these candidates.

Who I am voting for

Bill McKenna

Mr. McKenna, an incumbent, is one of my favorite people in Herndon. When you think small town advocacy and leadership, you think of people like Bill.

Mr. McKenna is a frequent face at Herndon events, and often represents the town on commissions. He has made differences both big and small: He champions downtown development as a policy and budget wonk, but also dedicates his time to things like reading to elementary school kids and supporting the Herndon Youth Advisory Council. He is very transparent, providing frequent email and social media updates about town goings-on.

His recent inspiring effort has been to lose weight while being active around Herndon. He’s lost 100 lbs and counting — go get ’em, Bill!

Jennifer Baker

The current Vice Mayor has been an outstanding voice for Herndon. She’s helped lead the town to the verge of downtown redevelopment and Metro connection. She’s done so while articulating a specific, exciting vision of Herndon as a small town that supports innovators in arts and other domains.

Ms. Baker also has constantly advocated for inclusive discourse and progress. She’s a beloved figure around town, and is always a delight to talk to. She has my vote this Election Day to continue the Town’s forward direction.

Joe Plummer

Joe is a newbie to the Herndon Town Council, but he is extremely impressive. His passion for, and knowledge of, sustainability principles is evident from a first conversation with him. The UN has declared climate change to be the most important issue of the near future, and Joe can be a voice for Herndon to make a positive impact in that field.

Though he is a fresh face, he has plenty of experience on town boards and commissions, and has demonstrated desire and skill for collaborating with incumbent Councilmembers. He has great ideas for topics like mass transit, fiscal responsibility, and town walkability. He’s also a lifelong resident — he peppers his social media with pictures of him growing up around town.

Grace Wolf Cunningham

Ms. Cunningham is the most experienced and distinguished member of the Herndon Town Council. She’s also an inspiring figure: She was the first Korean-American woman in an elected position in Virginia history. I strongly admire her social progressive streak, which she highlights in her campaign video on Facebook.

I am slightly alarmed by her central role in the lawsuit and sample ballot drama. As I’ve learned more about the situation, I believe she has acted responsibly and consistently, though the “Stand By Your Ad” complaints have the optics of pettiness, even if she believed them valid violations. I certainly think she should not be disqualified from consideration.

Policy- and experience-wise, Ms. Cunningham is my favorite candidate on the ballot, and I hope she will be able to serve a fifth term.

Who I am not voting for

Though Herndon residents are allowed to vote for up to six candidates for the Council, they can vote for fewer. I only have high enough confidence in four candidates to give them my vote. I do not plan on voting for the rest of the candidates, though I believe all (or most) of them would dutifully serve Herndon if elected.

Pradip Dhakal

I waffled multiple times on whether I would endorse Mr. Dhakal with my vote. He has a lot going for him: He would bring a fresh young voice to the Council, plus some much-needed diversity. He seems very congenial and collaborative, as well as driven.

I have two hesitations voting for him, and they are sufficient that I do not plan to vote for him in this election. First, he seems very inexperienced with local government, unlike some of the other non-incumbent candidates; his political voice still needs refinement. Second, his passion seems to be entrepreneurship, which is a fairly small aspect of Councilmember responsibility. (To be fair, he has emphasized more germane topics, like budgets, traffic, and downtown development, in recent campaign material.)

I am a fan of Mr. Dhakal and am excited to have him as a future leader of Herndon. I just feel like he’s not quite ready — I’d love to see him work on a town committee aligned with his interests, like the Economic Development Advisory Committee.

Signe Friedrichs & Sheila Olem

I’m going to discuss Ms. Friedrichs’ and Ms. Olem’s candidacy together because they have similar platforms, as well as similar strengths and weaknesses as candidates.

Both candidates are current Councilmembers who have served Herndon wonderfully. They have strived for progress and unity, and have made Herndon a better place. I am proud to have had them as my representatives, and I would not be disappointed if they are elected again.

However, both Councilmembers have engaged in troubling political behavior in recent months that has disqualified them from my vote. Their longstanding commitment to collaboration, one of my most important values in local government, seems to have deteriorated.

On April 24 (here’s a summary and the webcast), after months of work by the Council to seek public input and achieve consensus on the budget, both Ms. Olem and Ms. Friedrichs unexpectedly voted against the budget with a desire to consider raising the meal tax. As the budget and tax rate needed 5 of 6 votes to pass, but 4 of 6 votes to continue to the next meeting, this dramatic move put the council in a deadlock, of which Ms. Friedrichs eventually relented, securing a 2019 Herndon budget.

While the substance of their request was valid — to delay passage of the budget to reconsider the tax rate — the theatrical surprise (obvious in the other Councilmembers) after months of work, is the sort of political shenanigans that needs to stay out of small town Herndon.

Next, neither Ms. Olem nor Ms. Friedrichs opted to decline endorsement from Fairfax Democrats in solidarity with the rest of the incumbent Councilmembers. Of course this is a valid choice of theirs, but does not show the unity and shared vision I expect of our Council.

The last and most troubling action is that they have sued another Councilmember and candidate over something that is, from my perspective, non-injurious. In turn, they’ve impacted Ms. Cunningham’s campaign worse than she did theirs. It’s tacky, vaudeville politics that could, at worst, impact the legitimacy and stability of Herndon’s Town Council.

Although they’ve served Herndon well, and may continue to do so, I believe their actions the last six months are disqualifying.

Ms. Friedrichs:

Ms. Olem:

Roland Taylor & Sean Kenis

By all accounts I’ve heard, both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kenis are men of integrity who truly want the best for Herndon. Both have a history of public service. Mr. Taylor was the president of my homeowners association, and he ran a well-organized board. Both men, particularly Mr. Kenis, have campaigned diligently and articulated clear visions for Herndon’s future.

You also do not have to look far to see their many contributions to the community: Mr. Taylor has led the Herndon Optimist club, been involved in Scouting, and coached youth sports, while Mr. Kenis has coached the Hunters Creek swim team.

However, I disagree with many pieces of their platforms, to the point that I am not comfortable lending them my vote.  In fact, I think parts of their platform items would be regressive to Herndon’s continued progress as a vibrant and progrssive small town.

Mr. Kenis, for example, has discussed lowering taxes. Yet Herndon runs a very lean budget and has held the tax rate steady for years. The increase in tax revenue he cites is simply the effect of increased home values, and tax cuts would heavily favor owners of expensive houses. (I do agree with what his website says that

Mr. Kenis also has suggested reverting Herndon’s local voting back to May, instead of the national Election Day in November. He claims this would decrease partisanship and block-voting. Candidates would be true independents, he argues. What he fails to mention is that turnout tends to be very suppressed in offseason elections, and tend to disproportionately draw certain demographics (white, elderly, wealthy). It’s hard enough for everyone to find a couple hours off to vote in November; adding another in May just makes it even more difficult for those with hourly jobs or young families.

Mr. Taylor, meanwhile, uses quite a bit of anti-developer rhetoric in his promotional materials. I fear that Mr. Taylor would drag his heels in helping Herndon complete downtown redevelopment and Metro preparation.

Lastly, both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kenis proudly claim the title of independents, and decry party politics in Herndon. I was surprised, therefore, that the Herndon farmers’ market Fairfax Republicans booth was handing out Mr. Taylor’s and Kenis’s signs. I’ve since learned that does not constitute an endorsement — and even if it did, being Republican is not itself a problem — it’s just that independence is central to Mr. Roland and Mr. Kenis’s platform. (And, to be fair, if you identify Republican, you’d likely identify with an Independent relative to other candidates.)

I believe both to be good, hardworking, and well-intentioned candidates. However, I can’t give either of them my votes.

Mr. Taylor:

Mr. Kenis:

Cesar del Aguila

Mr. Aguila is a longtime vocal Democrat in the Northern Virginia area. I share many of his idealogies, and I strongly wish that Herndon had more Hispanic representation.

Yet, I believe he is a poor candidate for Herndon Town Council due to his aggressive, occasionally theatrical, approach to politics. I will not be voting for him.

He has displayed an appetite for aggressive approach to politics is inappropriate on a small town council. This is most noteworthy in his recent lawsuit against Ms. Cunningham. (Unlike Ms. Olem and Ms. Friedrichs, Mr. del Aguila does not have the strong history of service on the Town Council to counter-balance this act.)

Mr. del Aguila is the previous chairman of Fairfax Democrats, and he has championed proudly his desire for change. In that position, he fought for several great causes, including a 2012 suit against the Virginia election committee protecting voter rights.

However, I believe Mr. del Aguila’s approach to progress is not appropriate for Herndon Town Council, but would be better suited in other positions.

I’ve spoken to multiple veterans of the Northern Virginia political landscape who roll their eyes and cited Mr. del Aguila’s approach as a firebrand and political grenade-thrower, regardless of the actual stakes: He caused rifts and broke tradition, drawing headlines and dividing groups.

This is NOT the type of voice and leadership we need on Herndon Town Council.

It’s also not hard to draw a line between Mr. del Aguila and the budget battle on April 24 I mentioned in Ms. Olem’s and Ms. Friedrich’s section. Both Ms. Olem and Ms. Friedrich support heavy, burdensome town investment in the arts, and Mr. del Aguila is a board member of Arts Herndon. The three have appeared together in campaigning.

Some in Herndon leadership that I have spoken to have speculated that Mr. del Aguila has encouraged current Councilmembers to engage in his aggressive, dramatic tactics in the name of small wins, and would continue to if elected. This is an attitude we need to avoid in lovely Herndon — a town that should be unified and service-based, not headline- or lawsuit-based.

Thank you very much for reading this. I put a lot of thought and time into it. Did you appreciate this? Do you think I made some mistakes or missed information? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at danstalcup@gmail.com.

Let’s continue to make Herndon a great town to live in. Please vote on Tuesday, November 6!

22 Replies to “2018 Herndon Town Council Election: The misleading sample ballot, the lawsuit, and who I am voting for”

  1. Thank you for sharing this with the community. I have only been a resident of ToH for the past 2 years, but have become actively involved in our community and couldn’t agree more with your points stated above and the need for our Councilmembers to work together in a collaborative manner seeking respectful consensus in the best interests of the town.

    Meaningless political theatrics and grandstanding have no place in our community and only serve to assuage the egos of those instigating them.

  2. You have done your homework well and you are not alone in your thinking. Thank you for your time and effort. This has more facts than any of the well meaning Herndon blogs on Facebook. I am a 27 year resident of the Town and I’m voting with you!

  3. Obviously your point of view is favored towards one side which is your right. I was at all the meetings for the endorsement and let me tell you that you do not paint a full picture of what happened. It is a big deal to ask for an endorsement and then decline it because the results were not to your liking. Remember that it was a burdensome task for these candidates to fill out their bios and pay application fees, which all of them did. We cannot brush this under the rug and make it seem like it is not a big deal. Grace was extremely unprofessional and petty and the fact that you don’t see this shows me that you need to do more research. All these candidates are democrats and they tried to hijack the democratic process by doing this trickery to protect their friend Grace, is they acted like this during this process what else are they inclined to do in the future? When they ALL seemed the endorsement they all agreed to pledge their vote based on the recommendation so that is not a valid point. If Grace is such a wonderful candidate why didn’t she receive the endorsement? Also she could have opted out not to seek any endorsement and truly be independent. I don’t know her but I know what she tried to pull off and marginalize my democratic vote and for that I would never vote for her and urge everyone to not vote for her. At the end of the day make sure you go vote but do your research as well.

    1. Thanks for the feedback fellow resident. I did try to think make sense of Grace’s behavior, and, as I mentioned, I do think some of it appears hard-line, maybe even petty. I thought I’d heard every angle on what went down at the endorsement meetings, but it’s possible I missed something. I’m always happy to do more research — do you have any additional resources or accounts you can point me to? Best – Dan

  4. Thank you for taking the time to provide such thorough background on each candidate. I have been a resident of Herndon a little over four years and researching each member of the Council at that time was important information when deciding to relocate from Fairfax. Having my own perspective on each candidate, I can say I agree wholeheartedly with what you have written.
    My only disagreement would be with your decision to not vote for the maximum number of candidates possible to fill all seats on the Council. To not use the full weight of your vote would be similar to not voting at all. Whichever candidates receive enough votes for the two seats for which you did not vote would make it very difficult for you to make an argument against any candidate for whom you did not vote. If the 2016 general election taught us anything, it certainly taught us that every single last vote does matter, regardless of one’s political affiliation. For that reason alone, I would stand in support of all the candidates you have chosen to endorse as well as Pradip Dhakal and Sheila Olem. While I do agree in your assessment of those two candidates as well, I believe it is my civic duty to provide a vote equal to the number of council seats and I believe the final two candidates will provide what I am looking for in all six future council members.

    1. Thanks Jon. You raise an interesting point about my final two votes. I’ve been grappling with that exact dilemma. I will consider including two others on my ballot to maximize its impact, but I don’t want to harm the prospects of any of the candidates I feel strongly about. I will likely end up just voting for the four indicated here.

  5. I hope you will watch future Council meetings so you can judge Cesar’s contributions for yourself. I find him a sensible commentator during meetings and have never observed him acting any way but sensibly. I hope other Herndon residents will keep open minds on these candidacies, as well.

    1. Thanks Patricia. I do agree with a lot of what I’ve read of his viewpoints. It’s the lawsuit and clear instinct to abandon civility that worries me. If you have any examples of him speaking at council meetings, or articles or videos representing what you value about his voice, I’d love to see them!

  6. What a naively written piece! Ms. Merkel is as petty and divisive as she comes: she’ll lash out at anyone who doesn’t agree with her, such as how she treated Beth at Green Lizard; how she would sign and roll her eyes at the late Councilman Jeff Davidson; and how she lashed out at Herndon residents during summer who had well-founded concerns about the downtown development and followed due process to file their complaints. It’s no wonder that Grace acted in a similarly petty way: it’s tone at the top set by Ms. Merkel. Also, the reason that votes have generally been 7-0 or 6-1 is that most of the current council ran as a block; thus, there’s a concerning lack of diversity of on the current council — something all the liberals in town should be appalled by! Anyone who values diversity of thought and wants to give other citizens a chance to run should vote to clean out the ENTIRE council so that they can be replaced with new folks and fresh ideas.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, but we disagree strongly, and I don’t think we’re going to change each others’ minds. While I think it’s okay to occasionally have a reaction in the moment (some of what you’re describing), it shouldn’t result in divisive or angry rhetoric, and Ms. Merkel, from my observation, has never engaged in the large-scale negativity or conspiracy that you’ve described. If you have unbiased resources on the matter you’d like to send my way contradicting this, I’d be happy to review them!

    2. In 1006, only ONE member of the former TC was elected. Steve DeBenidittis became Mayor.
      The campaign was brutal, and the whole atmosphere of our Town changed for the worse.

      Agree with you that fresh ideas are needed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that new faces are needed.
      Grace’s background is impressive, and she has been good for Herndon. / As for Sheila Olem;
      she has a solid background in every aspect of Herndon, having been on several boards before
      becoming a council member. Also, she has good relations with people in Richmond, which I feel is an asset. I don’t know Cesar or Signe very well.
      After having read Joe Plummers bio, I feel that he is the new face and fresh idea member needed on our TC.
      In the end, let me say that I admire everyone of the candidates. Takes a lot of guts
      and a lot of work to run for office. Good luck!

  7. I guess you feel that there shouldn’t be one “Republican ” candidate worthy of the council. Should there not be opposing views? Different ideas and debate couldn’t hurt. Herndon is not 100 % Democrat. I think it would be good to have a little bit of diversity instead of a group of people that all think the same way on everything.

    1. I care less about someone’s party than their platform and approach to problem solving. The two candidates who I highlighted as being labeled as Republican I did so not because I dislike Republicans and hold it against them, but to question their claims as “Independents.” I will not vote for them simply because of platform reasons. I do agree with you that diversity and balance, in general, are good things.

  8. Thank you for your analysis. Locally, I believe in a vibrant downtown and enjoy all points of view. I would note in your analysis of Pradip Dhakal (whom I do not know and only met once at a forum and have read his literature) should be thought of as a serious candidate. Lack of public service is not the disqualifier it once was. I would point out most of the current council did not have previous service on Town Boards. I was elected to the Council (’92) never having served on a Town Board. As for Caesar, you nailed it. Herndon does not need this kind of discourse. I will vote for the candidates I believe want to move Herndon forward and support visions from past councils. I speak from experience and currently have four generations residing in Town.

    1. Steve — thanks very much for the comment, and for your past service to Herndon. You make a good point about Mr. Dhakal’s experience perhaps being in line with what current Councilmembers had when they started. I’ve really struggled with how to vote for Mr. Dhakal. I agree that we should vote for a council that will move the Town forward. Thanks.

  9. as a 30 year resident serving on many county commissions including metro planning, center for Innovative technology and the route 28tax district, I have a regional understanding of the planning process. And as a Town of Herndon Planning Commissioner I helped write the downtown plan, helped design and found the industrial strength theater and Artspace. Sorry for the self advertisement but I wanted you to know that I have first hand knowledge about those who serve Herndon.

    I agree with much you have written about the Town I love. However you are misunderstanding i many of the candidates for election.. As a political scientist I try to be objective about facts, something lost in most politics today. I grew up in the 60’s when politics was driven by deep concerns for policy. In this age of Trump, most office holders are in the game for ego driven self serving purposes. I don’t see passion for ideas. many of my friends on Town Council fit this description. they waffle on issues, are afraid of citizen input and are not very transparent on the process of governing. so be careful on judging public officials. just appearing at events, counting the votes in the audience, and taking a safe path, is not leadership.
    I must say your read on Cesar, Shela, and Signe is totally wrong. At Town Council work sessions, both Shela and Signe were often ignored when they tried to discuss funding for the proposed art center and they had to use the budget debate as their way to get discussion. they often called other council members to try to lobby for the art center, but we’re largely ignored.
    Meanwhile some leaders on council were plotting to reduce the public art footprint in the downtown. Why would we trade land for downtown development unless we obtain sound public projects in return.?
    You need too ask Grace Wolf Cunningham why she has done everything in her power to undermine public support for Artspace and the proposed art center in the downtown.

    Richard Downer and I have been working with three former mayors and other town officials on how to pay for the operation of the art center yet without raising taxes.
    we have written a business plan that includes $300,000 a year funding as public art venues need support if admission and programs are to be affordable to all our residents. For example, our sports teams organize the teams while using the fields provided by the Town. Likewise it is unrealistic for non profit arts organizations to provide the venue of the art center. The non profits should funf the programs through fees, donations, and grants. the $300,000 mentioned above is for a facility manager, janitorial service, and utilities. I estimate that a surcharge of $4 on tickets to the theatre and gallery events would lay for half of the facility costs per year, with the other half coming from the existing meals tax and increase in revenue from the downtown property tax rate. no increase in taxes is necessary. For this expenditure we gain programs for our diverse cultural heritage, give a social educational purpose to our downtown, and bring thousands of patrons to our downtown businesses. We need leadership with vision for Herndon’s future.

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Lester, and thanks for your service to Herndon. I appreciate your perspective. I am still trying to understand some of the nuances of the money. We don’t agree on everything, but thank you for posting — I will continue to try and educate myself.

  10. You clearly stated that this post was your opinion and the facts you learnt that got you to this opinion. I love it! I was telling my kids earlier this week that I was missing some 3rd party/Independant review of all candidates to be able to form my own opinion. I have chosen not to take the time to do the research you did and love the fact your shared this with all of us. So far, this appears to be the least « partisan » summary I have seen. I hope this will foster an environment for others to share their facts (and opinions of course! 😉 ).

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